The subject of this article is something that everyone working in Jamaica’s dancehall music industry – whether in country or overseas – should seriously consider. In 2021, the small island of Jamaica, with a population of approximately 2.961 million people, reported 1,463 murders. A high percentage of that was gang related.
The reason the question posed in the title must be contemplated is because most of these new dancehall artists seem to be: 1) gang affiliated, 2) always singing / promoting violence and 3) constantly brandishing guns in their videos.
Now as the debate about the high murder rate rages on, everyone, including those in the music industry, appear to be putting the blame squarely at the feet of the government; refusing to make the connection between their colleagues’ lyrical content and what is going on in the streets.
However, the truth is that youths in the streets are a 100% more likely to pay attention to, and imitate persons in the entertainment industry than they are politicians, pastors or police. That is just a fact that cannot be intelligently disputed by any well thinking person. That said, we all – everyone of us working in music – must be honest about where our country is and the role we can and will play to either get it out of this mess, or push it in deeper.
All hands are needed on deck and no role is too small. This means that if all you do is make mixtapes; refusing to include songs that promote violence is what you can and should do. The same goes for radio djs, sound system selectors and everyone in between. As for producers, you are probably in the most powerful position. All you have to do is refuse to voice any gun lyrics on your beats or feature the same on your record label. As for the gun-promoting artists that are financing their own projects, it will be up to the engineers (recording, mixing and mastering) to firmly refuse to work on anything that glorifies crime and violence.